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Children are of great importance in family-oriented Philippine culture. They form the link that binds the wife's family to the husband's. They also present opportunities for extending kin relations through the compadrazco system. Hence, Filipinas expect and are expected to have children once they marry.
The role of mother is probably the most important role a Filipina will assume in the course of her life. Since the mother is in charge of household matters and responsibility of the children lies mainly with her , she is in a position of power. This power is not to be underestimated considering that kinship dynamics is the central propitiating force in Philippines society, as illustrated by the prevalence of nepotism in many areas.
Her power comes from the sense of obligation to parents instilled in children. There is also from another factor that comes into it- the sense of belonging and ownership which characterizes Filipino relationships. In Study of Psychopathology, Dr Lapuz state:' A person grows up in the Filipino culture with one paramount assumption: that he belongs to someone. When he presents his self to others, it is with his family that he is identified. He belongs to the family as a whole as well as to it's members.' She goes on to say: ' Between the parents, there is a further choice as to whom one belongs. Almost always, it is the mother. The loyalty, allegiance and the sense of obligation are stronger with her than with farther. One must never cause her hurt or displeasure . The greater attachment to the mother is , of course, inevitable not only because of biological circumstances , but also because of the prolonged intense emotional nurturing of received from her. Here is where to belong gains the meaning of to loved ,cared for, and protected.'
The 'ownership ' type of relationship gives the mother certain rights over the child. For example , she believes she has the right to know her children' s private thought and thus encourage the confiding of problems and secrets. While she does this with the intention of guiding their thinking and advising them properly, there may also be an unconscious or perhaps subconscious wish to make them emotionally dependent on her, thus giving her a greater hold on them. A mother also has the right to advise her children who in turn are taught to take such advice meekly because it is given in their interest.
George M. Guthrie and Pepita Jimenez Jacobs did a cross-cultural study on child-rearing entitled Child Rearing and Personality Development in the Philippines. They compared their findings with those of Sears, Maccoby and Levin on the patterns of child-rearing among American mothers. Some of the more obvious and important differences they report are: Filipino mothers are more lenient and permissive about feeding intervals, weaning and toilet-training than their American counterparts; American mothers use denial of privileges, threats of loss of love, and physical punishment to enforce obedience, while Filipino mothers are more likely to punish physically, scold, or bribe; American mothers do not as a rule share are surrounded by many adults who share in the responsibility of their upbringing.
Some differences between the two cultures were attributed to environment but most appear to have stemmed from dissimilar cultural emphasis. For example, the child-rearing practices of Filipino mothers are directed and determined by the cultural emphasis on the importance of the family and smooth interpersonal relations. The difference in emphasis in Philippines and American culture is expressed succinctly in the following statement by Guthrie and Jacobs: The Philippine ideal is not self-sufficiency and independence but rather family sufficiency and refined sense of reciprocity.' This was demonstrated quite clearly in their study on Philippine parental attitudes towards their children. They make the following comment in their discussion of their finding:Parents do not express the hope that their children will be ambitious or show great achievements. There is no mention of child becoming rich or famous. On the contrary, they stress the hope that their child will heed family values.'
Although the upbringing of Filipino children may be shared by others in the family, the main responsibility lies with the mother. While the others may play with them or help them dress, ect., it is the mother who disciplines them. Her role is acknowledged by society and consequently it is she who receives the credit when they grow up to be good members of the community , and the blame when they fail. Filipinos believe that children's behavior reflects their parents' attitudes. Hence the mother places paramount importance on the task of instilling the cultural values of the family sufficiency and pakikisama, the ability to get along smoothly with others.
The role of the mother does not end upon the marriage of her children. Although it is diminished, she still remains a powerful figure in the life of her children. She can influence major decisions such as choosing curtains for the kitchen or the baby's room. When grandchildren arrives she inevitably has to have a say in the baptismal celebrations or at least know everything concerning the child. This often gives rise to conflict between a wife and her mother-in-law, a situation not uncommon in Philippine society. In such situations the husband is always caught in the middle. He must never openly go against his mother because it is his duty first and foremost to be a good son.On the other hand he cannot ignore his wife's complaints and may often sympathize with her. Yet he is powerless to do anything and, although the wife complains to him and wants him to intervene, she knows he cannot and never will. She will also never openly defy or confront her mother-in-law.
There is usually a great effort on the wife's part to get along with her mother-in-law. In Filipino Marriages in Crisis, Dr. Lapuz comments:' It is a attribute, dubious perhaps, to the Filipino daughter-in-law that she continues to want to be liked by her husband's mother. ' Part of the reason for this is the power the mother-in-law wields over her son. Good relations with the mother-in-law ensures support, both material and emotional, which naturally would make life easier for the wife/daughter-in-law. It is important to understand the unique position in which the Filipino daughter-in-law is placed in a situation which occurs across many different cultures. Because of it, she mat not respond in the way her American or European counterparts would.